Getting paid on a prepaid card? Know your options

Getting paid on a prepaid card? Know your options

Published 1/16/14  (Modified 1/17/14)

Getting paid on a prepaid card? Know your options By Holly Johnson

If your employer pays you on a prepaid debit card instead of a check, it doesn't have to be that way. Last fall, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued a warning to employers in regards to how employees must be paid. According to the bulletin, employers can no longer force employees to accept payment on a payroll card, although they may still offer the option. In addition, employees who choose to accept payment on a payroll card became entitled to certain federal protections.

So, what is all the hubbub about? Basically, it's this: Many employers, particularly those of hourly employees, have moved away from traditional payroll checks and toward the use of prepaid debit cards over the last few years. And apparently, they have a big incentive to do so. According to Visa payment solutions, employers have a lot to gain from making the switch, with benefits such as convenience, less paper waste and significant financial savings.

Unfortunately, the benefits of prepaid debit cards aren't necessarily as obvious for employees. Firstly, according to the CFPB bulletin, some employees have complained about fees related to the use of their prepaid debit card, including fees for ATM use, teller withdrawals and balance inquiries. Secondly, many workers didn't realize that they had other options when it comes to how they're paid. These two issues helped prompt the CFPB bulletin outlining the current rules when it comes the use of the cards for payroll purposes, according to the agency's release.

Prepaid debit cards: It's your choice

Still, accepting payment on a prepaid debit card doesn't have to be all doom and gloom.

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Change in your pocket: Will Coin replace credit cards?

Published 1/13/14

Change in your pocket: Will Coin replace credit cards? By Justin Boyle

Late in 2013, the gadget-oriented segment of the personal finance community started rumbling about a new toy that could bring novelty and an extra measure of convenience to the world of credit cards. It's called Coin, and buzz abounds.

But the ever-present question of start-up tech remains: Will Coin deliver on the jazzed-up promises of its hype machine? Does the problem of carrying too many credit cards even need another high-tech solution? Let's take a look at the details.

How Coin works

Coin is the size and shape of a standard credit card, but there's more going on than meets the eye. Using a special smartphone attachment, you can swipe and store your credit cards, debit cards, membership cards, retail loyalty cards, gift cards, you name it. If it uses a standard magnetic strip system to identify itself, Coin can use it.

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Discover Bank review: savings accounts from an innovative company

Published 12/19/13  (Modified 2/19/14)

By Georgie Miller

For thousands of years, most people believed that the world was flat. Similarly, many people today believe that Discover is "just" a credit card company.

Pardon me while I snort with laughter.

It's true that Discover Card is one of the best-known cards in the biz -- "It really pays to Discover," after all -- but there's much more to Discover than credit cards, even if they did introduce the very first cash-rewards credit card way back in 1986. Today, Discover Bank -- the card company's division for deposit accounts -- offers a variety of savings options for consumers.

Discover Bank accounts

Discover Bank's accounts aim to help you balance flexibility -- that is, the ease with which you can access your money -- and yield, the amount you're getting out of your investment. The company offers three main options: a money market account, online savings account and high-yield CDs.

Discover Bank's money market accounts are available with a starting balance of only $2,500. Additionally, you can get free ATM withdrawals at Allpoint and MoneyPass ATMs. Since some online savings accounts don't offer ATM cards, this accessibility is a nice feature. You can also manage your account online or with Discover's mobile app. As of this writing, its yield has also consistently exceeded the national averages for money market accounts.

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Mutual of Omaha Bank review: competitive yields, considerable stability

Published 12/19/13  (Modified 2/19/14)

By Peter Andrew

You're probably too young to share my memories, but I remember the days before Wall Street discovered Gordon Gekko and cocaine (not necessarily in that order). Banks were different then. Bankers tended to do boring things: you know, stuff like banking. Today, of course, it's so much more exciting. They take deposits over the counter, and immediately run out to the back office to put the lot on 13 black, or something mildly more speculative.

At least, that's the impression you might get from reading the financial news since the last financial crisis. It may be difficult to escape this modern approach to financial services, but if you yearn for the days when bankers were typically less like Gekko and more like George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart's character in "It's a Wonderful Life"), you could do worse than to explore Mutual of Omaha Bank's online accounts.

A steady history

This Nebraska-based bank, which can trace its heritage across more than a century, seems to embody Midwestern conservatism and prudence. Indeed, the three words it chooses to use on its website to encapsulate its values are, "Strength. Stability. Service." And yes, these are the people behind "Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom," the wildlife television series that's won many Emmys.

Mutual of Omaha Bank has a branch network, but for this review we're only interested in its online accounts, all of which come with standard FDIC deposit insurance coverage.

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CIT Bank review: making online banking painless

Published 12/16/13  (Modified 2/19/14)

By Holly Johnson

I have a confession. When it comes to banking, I'm somewhat technology-averse. Out of all of my family and friends, I was the last one to sign up for online banking of any kind. And up until a few years ago, I was insistent on paying all of my bills with the dinosaur of personal finance, a personal check. Even more tragic is that I mailed everything via snail mail, sometimes waiting as long as 10 days for a payment to post to my account. It was so ... slow.

Looking back, I can't believe I chose such an inefficient method for something as important as my personal banking. And now that I'm up-to-date with modern banking methods, I'm a staunch proponent of doing all of my transactions online. That's why I was excited when my editor asked me to review CIT Bank's online savings accounts and CDs. Now that I understand the merits of online banking, I'm in a much better place to portray CIT Bank's services in a way that makes sense.

About CIT Group, Inc.

Founded in 1908, CIT Group, Inc. (NYSE: CIT) opened its doors with the goal of offering high quality low-rate loans to reputable commercial clients.

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Capital One 360 review: as good as its predecessor?

Published 12/9/13  (Modified 2/19/14)

By Justin Boyle

Most people can't tell you where they were when they first heard about online banking. After all, U.S. consumers got the news back in 2000 during the dot-com bonanza, when so many services were migrating online that people couldn't really be expected to remember every little innovation.

The bubble did eventually burst, and only a few of those new virtual institutions were strong enough to stick around. Thanks in part to a robust customer-care policy, ING Direct was one of the companies that weathered the storm.

Things don't stay the same forever though, and the acquisition of ING Direct USA by Capital One was approved by the Federal Reserve on Valentine's Day 2012. The service emerged as Capital One 360 about a year later, and Capital One firmly announced its intentions to do right by ING's customers.

The new bosses have likely had time to get most of the kinks worked out by now, so it seems fair to ask: Does Capital One 360 measure up to the venerable online bank it replaced?

Capital One 360 accounts

The basic personal banking products available through Capital One 360 appear to have experienced little more than nominal change under the new guard. The basic online savings account still charges no fees, requires no minimum balance and features a variable annual percentage yield (APY) among the highest online savings account rates available, as of this writing (see the current Capital One 360 rates in the table below).

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